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Rhythms - Paquita [1972, Chicago, Hyde Park High School]

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Video Identifier: V.2011-05-0489
Run Time
0h 33m 39s
Date Produced
"Rhythms" is a modern dance work choreographed by company member Richard Arve for Ruth Page's Chicago Ballet in the early 1970s.  It uses several tracks of popular music from the era, including "Embryo," "Children of the Grave," and "Into the Void" from Black Sabbath's 1971 album Master of Reality and Morton Subotnick's 1968 The Wild Bull (Part A).

"Paquita" is a ballet originally choreographed by Marius Petipa in the 1840s.  It appears to have been restaged for Ruth Page's Chicago Ballet by Larry Long.

This video represents rehearsals of both pieces; the former with music that cuts in and out, the latter without music.  The original container label suggests these rehearsals were filmed on November 30, 1972 at Hyde Park High School.  Lighting seems to be low so the video is dark in both cases.
The video begins with a shot of a man sweeping a stage; it then cuts to a long shot of that stage, now full of ten dancers, five standing and five crouching.  Those standing move slowly through ballet-based steps such as developés and attitudes, and then launch into more staccato movements from modern dance.  Those crouching pound rhythms on the stage floor before standing up as the others crouch down.  A similar series of movements follows; the groups trade places two more times as the dance continues.  Then, all roll around on the floor, after which a group of three dancers emerges and stands at the front.  They perform an ensemble dance involving both head movements and staccato steps.  They are then joined by another group of three before all disband and separate into two groups of five.  One group stands along the back curtain while the other group performs an ensemble dance.  Then a group of four comes out, followed by another group of four, then five, etc.  Each group performs ballet and modern steps with high energy.

As the music transitions from Black Sabbath to Morton Subotnick, the groups once again disperse and a group of five dancers forms alone onstage.  They move slowly, and are eventually joined by another group of five.  The groups form couples and perform both partnering and floorwork.  Half of the group leaves and as the music transitions back to Black Sabbath, the remaining five dancers begin to dance more vigorously; the other five then rejoin them.  More partnering and floorwork follows.  To complete the dance, the dancers disperse and reform on the ground, where all pound out a rhythm together.  

The video then cuts to a rehearsal of Paquita.  Two male/female couples stand posed in each of the upstage corners of the stage.  After apparently waiting for the music to begin, the upstage left group begins a mazurka-like dance back and forth across the stage.  Once it is complete and they resume their pose downstage, the other group follows suit.  Then both groups waltz in rows back and forth toward center.  The men then resume their poses while the four women perform an ensemble dance.  Afterwards, a couple's coda begins with the entry of a male soloist, then the corresponding female solist, and finally a brief and energetic pas de deux.  When they exit, the four women begin dancing again; they are soon rejoined by the four men.  The couple returns and the female soloist leads the other women in a women's ensemble dance; the male soloist then leads the men in joining them four couples' dances.  

When they all strike a final pose, the video goes black for several moments; it then picks up where it left off but with a different female soloist (or, at least, a differently dressed female soloist).  The central couple continues to lead the rest in an ensemble dance.  Eventually, all strike a final pose and the video goes black again, before returning this time to the four female dancers posed in a row.  They embark on an ensemble dance, after which the original female soloist enters and performs alone.  The rest then return to the stage two by two, and re-form for more ensemble dancing.  Eventually, the soloist joins them for another women's dance.  

After all strike a final pose, the soloist exits, followed by three of the four others, leaving one onstage to begin a solo variation.  Once she completes it, the video cuts to another of the four women standing in the same spot, where she begins her own solo variation.  Just as she finishes hers, the video again cuts to the third female dancer beginning a variation.  As she completes it, the video cuts once again to the beginning of a solo, this time performed by the female soloist.  Next, the video cuts to footage of the male solist dancing his variation.  He slips and botches his final landing, but the video continues on by cutting to the four female dancers once again entering all together.  After a brief ensemble dancem they pose along the sides and allow the male soloist another quick variation.  This is followed by the four male dancers entering for an ensemble dance, followed in turn by the entrance of the female soloist for her reprise.  The male soloist again enters and performs a quick allegro, after which the four female and four male dancers join together and dance.  They stop in poses while the second female soloist returns to dance in front of them.  The male soloist reenters a final time to join her for a pas de deux.  They then exit and allow the four couples do perform a final ensemble dance.  The video ends while they are doing so.
Additional Credit
Arve, Richard (is choreographer)
Black Sabbath (music)
Long, Larry (is choreographer)
Petipa, Marius (is choreographer)
Subotnick, Morton (music)
Related Place
Chicago (production location of)